Dr. Rob Dillon, Coordinator

Wednesday, October 4, 2006

FWS Finding on the Idaho Springsnail

To the FWGNA group:

Most of you will probably recall my series of messages last year regarding the Idaho springsnail controversy - a tangle of competing proposals to delist the federally endangered "Pyrgulopsis idahoensis," or to keep P. idahoensis on the list and add several other very similar Pyrgulopsis populations in Oregon, Washington, and Wyoming. See April 2005, December 2005, and January 2006.

Now it would appear that a decision is finally at hand. This past Thursday, Sept 28, the US Fish & Wildlife Service published in the Federal Register a "Notice of two 12-month petition findings and a proposed rule to delist the Idaho springsnail." A press release was simultaneously issued from the Snake River Office bearing this headline: "Protection Not Warranted for Four Springsnail Species." See below.

I'd guess this pretty much settles the matter. Ahead is yet one more comment period, and a final decision by Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne, who (ironically) used to be Governor of Idaho. But in all honesty, the Conservation Community has already spent way too much time on this, "the largest single population of freshwater snails ever documented." North America is home to scores of other freshwater gastropod species much more deserving of protection than the Idaho springsnail. Let's move on.

Speaking of which, the website of the Snake River FWS Office features two other news releases of interest - one having to do with the (much more endangered!) Pyrgulopsis bruneauensis and the other regarding the (undescribed) "Banbury Springs Lanx." If anybody on this list has additional information regarding either of these two species, contact the FWS.

And keep in touch!

Snake River Fish and Wildlife Office
1387 S. Vinnell Way, Room 368 • Boise, Idaho 83709
September 28, 2006
Contact: Meggan Laxalt Mackey

Public Comments Accepted through November 27, 2006 on Service’s Proposal to Delist Idaho Springsnail

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service today announced the Idaho springsnail, currently listed as endangered under the Endangered Species Act (ESA), has been found to be the same species as three other groups of freshwater springsnails, none of which warrants protection under the ESA. The Service therefore today published a proposal in the Federal Register to remove the Idaho springsnail from the Federal list of threatened and endangered species.

This decision is based on the new taxonomic information and other available scientific information that resulted in four groups of springsnails being classified as one species, Pyrgulopsis robusta. The four groups of springsnails are the Idaho springsnail that inhabits Idaho’s Snake River, the Harney Lake springsnail in southeastern Oregon, the Jackson Lake springsnail in western Wyoming, and the Columbia springsnail from the lower Columbia River between Oregon and Washington.

“The 1992 listing of the Idaho springsnail as endangered was based on the best information available at that time on the species and the threats it faced,” said Ren Lohoefener, director of the Fish and Wildlife Service’s Pacific region. “New scientific information became available that prompted the Service to closely examine the status and classification of the species and other closely related springsnails. The examination of all the information currently available led us quite clearly to this decision.”

Comments from all interested parties regarding the proposal to delist the Idaho springsnail will be accepted by the Service until close of business November 27, 2006. Requests for public hearings must be received on or before November 13, 2006. Comments may be submitted by e-mail to: fw1srbocomment@fws.gov, by fax to 208-378-5262, or by mail or hand-delivery to the Service’s Snake River Fish and Wildlife Office at 1387 S. Vinnell Way, Boise, Idaho 83709. Please include the title “ISS RIN1018-AU66” in the subject line.

The Service conducted a comprehensive 12-month review of the four groups of springsnails. The Service’s review was prompted by two separate petitions concerning the four springsnails: one petition by the Idaho Governor’s Office of Species Conservation and the Idaho Power Company seeking the delisting of the Idaho springsnail, and another from a group of academics and environmental organizations requesting the listing of all four springsnail populations.

The Service also included in this process a five-year review of the Idaho springsnail, a process required by the ESA for all listed species to determine whether the species is properly classified. The five-year review of the Idaho springsnail is available from the FWS Pacific Region website. Pyrgulopsis robusta is a small (4-6mm) freshwater snail species. It may be found in various habitats from small springs and spring-fed creeks to reservoirs and large river systems. The snails feed primarily on algae, bacteria, fungi, diatoms (small plants), and protozoa (small animals) on the surface of rocks or gravel in the water.